Rick Braun sets himself apart with his latest album “AROUND THE HORN.” This standout project is more contemporary and described by Rick as being “a musical journey around the world.” This will be Rick’s seventeenth album and debut release on Shanachie Entertainment. Braun collaborated with long time friend John Stoddart and says that “this record would not be what it is without John’s help.” Peter White and Lindsey Webster are featured artists, adding their originality. “AROUND THE HORN” is a collection of original songs and covers of songs. Braun added his genius to songs by Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Charlie Puth, and Selena Gomez, maintaining their authenticity. Rick proudly admits that his daughter was “a big inspiration for the album.” He even titled the song “Pool Dancer” for her. Braun’s friend and fellow trumpet player from Germany, Till Bronner, joins him on the title track “AROUND THE HORN.” Together, they take trumpet playing to another level.
2016 has been a great year for saxophonist Jessy J. She got married and on October 28th, released her debut holiday album, “California Christmas.” Jessy produced the project that she had been working on since 2014. She released it on her own label, Changi Records. The album was dedicated to her former manager, Stewart, who passed away last year. A few of Jessy’s friends including Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Steve Oliver, Michael Thompson, Maurice Smith, Jay Rowe, and more joined her on the album. Christmas is Jessy’s favorite time of year, and creating a holiday album that was a reflection of a “California Christmas” felt like a must to her. Covering holiday favorites with her own blues, tropical, jazzy sound makes this album a welcome addition to fans’ collections. Additionally, Jessy started a Pledge Music campaign–a great way for her to interact with fans.
The smooth, effortless voice of Lindsey Webster has been compared to Sade. However, make no mistake; Lindsey Webster is in a league of her own. Lindsey recently signed with Shanachie Entertainment and has the first vocal number one to grace the Contemporary Jazz charts. Her song “Fool Me Once” was the first to have that honor since Sade’s “Soldier Of Love.” That is quite an accomplishment in a genre where men are the majority. Webster says, “this honor has changed the game for me. Once a dream comes into fruition, it really lights a fire.” Her highly awaited new album, “Back To Your Heart,” will be released on November 4th. Lindsey is excited about the endless possibilities and looks forward to touring and sharing with audiences around the world. I asked Lindsey what “Back To Your Heart” represents to her. She says, “it is an accurate representation of who I am as an artist.”
Saxophonist Paul Taylor is ready and set to release the 11th project of his illustrious career: “Countdown.” On September 9th, his fans will get the opportunity to experience Paul like never before. Taylor keeps an open mind and pays attention to new sounds and elements in music. Thus, he is armed with a diversified palette to create “Countdown” from. Paul collaborated with his longtime friend and co-producer, writer Dino Esposito. Their working relationship is built on years of trust and respect. The title track, “Countdown,” is the first song on the cd and sets the tone for the mystical journey ahead. “Arrival” is the first single and is flirtatiously soulful. Guitarist Peter White joins Paul on the sultry song “Polaris.” And amidst his saxophone playing, Taylor garnishes “What You Love” and “Knocking At The Door” with his laid-back vocals. He adds just the right amount of spice by giving fans a little something different. Paul is an artist who likes to keep current and listens to all music, staying engaged. Paul said, “I feel like I’m just coming into my own.” Admittedly, this is a new direction for Paul, and he is embracing it.
Pianist, humanitarian, and composer Keiko Matsui is celebrating her 30th anniversary of recording. Admittedly, for Keiko, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long. On August 5th, “Journey To The Heart” was released, and as of August 17th, debuted at #1 on Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. Throughout the years, Keiko has always written from her heart and embraced what was relevant in her life at any particular time. She’s not only a brilliant musician; she is a humanitarian who makes it her business to shine a light on issues around the world. Her humble spirit can be felt in her music as well as her passion. Keiko states,”‘Journey To The Heart’ is my gift to my fans. I want to deliver the most beautiful and emotional experience.” Undoubtedly, she has once again conveyed her message. Each song has a personality of its own and tells its own story. “Journey To The Heart” arouses every human sense and emotion. Using an acoustic approach, Keiko created a whole new energy resembling change and a new life chapter. Narrowing down over 100 melodic ideas, Keiko takes listeners on a “Journey To The Heart” saying “my melodies are my living testimony.”
My friend and I talk about her incredible journey:
Carol Duboc encompasses an impeccable voice. However, she is also a composer, pianist, engineer, and producer. Carol has worked with some of the very best in music and has shown she is quite the force herself. Among peers, in the studio, and on stage, Carol is dynamite. Recently, Duboc released her eighth album titled “OPEN THE CURTAINS”–a title expressing the sentiments shared by her daughter Anna and herself. Why not “OPEN THE CURTAINS,” some may say? Through the music, Carol empowers women to step on out and know that you are important; just another poetic collection of songs stemming from her personal experiences and desire to rise above all circumstances. Carol enlisted girl power like no other to join her on this album. She called on colleagues Patrice Rushen, Sheila E., Bibi McGill, Queen Cora Coleman, Rhonda Smith, Aubrey Logan, and Mindi Abair. Having wrote seven songs on “OPEN THE CURTAINS,” she also wanted to highlight other female musicians that share her love for songwriting. So, she covered Patrice Rushen, of course, Peggy Lee, and Nina Simone. Recording the album was in her words an “enlightening experience.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, when the project was complete, it would become an empowering anthem for women. Carol is very clear about the message she feels and hopes fans can gain by hearing her music and that is: “let go and let God.”
Listen as Carol and I share another enlightening conversation:
How do you celebrate thirty years of making music? You release your 22nd album in honor of such an accomplishment. The Rippington’s are celebrating their thirty year anniversary with the release of “True Stories.” The album was recorded with all original Rippington members. Rippington’s founder Russ Freeman is jubilant and is ever so grateful for the fans who have been with them and brought the group this far. As fans are well-aware, The Rippington’s never disappoint. The group is admired by their peers and revered for their talents. Over the years, they have collaborated with artists such as Bob James, Patti Austin, and Joe Sample. It is the group’s ability to combine varying styles of music that is unique. Russ always has a “visual point of reference” when writing new music. He always strives to push the envelope and lets his imagination guide him when recording new music. “True Stories” is comprised of ten original songs and features Jeffrey Osborne on the tune “My Promise.”
Russ and I talk about the music and “True Stories”: